England’s Insular Imagining: The Elizabethan Erasure of Scotland

englands insular imagining book cover

How have the English conceived of Scotland? Lorna Hutson's book is an essential intervention in the contested narrative of British nationhood. It argues that England deployed a mythical 'British History' in pursuing dominion over its northern neighbour: initially through waging war, and then striving to make the very idea of Scotland vanish in new figurations of sea-sovereignty. The author explores English attempts at conquest in the 1540s, revealing how justifications of overlordship mutated into literary, legal and cartographic ploys to erase Scotland-as-kingdom. Maps, treatises and military propaganda are no less imaginative in their eradicative strategies than river poetry, chorography, allegory, epic, tragedies, history plays and masques. Hutson shows how Spenser's Faerie Queene, Shakespeare's Henry V and King Lear, Plowden's theory of the King's Two Bodies, Camden's Britannia, and the race-making in Jonson's Masque of Blackness are all implicated in England's jurisdictional claim and refusal to acknowledge Scotland as sovereign nation.

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